Vigilance is all-important when you are traveling to foreign countries. When you are in unfamiliar territory, you cannot take anything for granted. You have to be more careful than usual, since you won’t be able to access home support and backup. Here are 35 ways to travel abroad safe and sound.
Research your destination(s) thoroughly before you leave home.
1. Understand local cultures, rules, laws, crime rates, weather conditions, attitudes, etiquette, price of things and similar information.
2. Find out which areas of your destination are considered safe and which are considered shady.
3. Read up on common scams and crimes in your destination area.
4. Read local reports on the internet and follow up on current events, especially any political unrest.
5. Learn what could be termed offensive behavior at your destination, to avoid provoking people by accident.
6. Take only as much with you as you absolutely need during your travel. The less you take with you, the less your loss in case of theft.
7. Don’t carry expensive gadgets; leave your fancy phone, headphones and music system at home.
8. Take copies of your passport, fronts and backs of your credit, debit and prepaid ATM cards, traveler’s checks and other travel documents. Keep a set of the copies in your luggage and one set in your jacket. If any document gets stolen, you can take the copy to your local embassy.
9. Convert some of your dollars into travelers’ checks, some cards and some cash in destination-local currency in small denominations.
10. Before leaving on your trip, visit your state department’s website and obtain travel advisories for your destination country.
11. Take copies of your itinerary and leave them with family and friends at home. Whenever you move to a different locality or register in a new hotel, message the contact numbers and contact people’s names to your family.
12. If you want to drive while abroad, obtain an international driving permit in advance from your local motor vehicle authority.
13. If you’re carrying medication, leave some of them in your luggage, some in your pocket and some in your carry-on luggage.
14. If you’re a diabetic or if you suffer from any other disease, carry a note from your doctor, along with your prescription and latest health reports.
Use these tips to stay safe, healthy and sound at your destination.
15. Contact doctors at your country’s embassy at your destination and inform them about your health needs if any. They’ll be available for contact during emergencies.
16. Register your international driver’s license with your country’s embassy in your destination city. If anything happens on the road, your embassy will have contact information for you and will contact your family.
17. Buy a cheap phone and get a local SIM card with international calling facility.
18. Don’t carry all your cash in your wallet. Every time you open your wallet, you risk exposure. Hide a bit of your cash in a hidden compartment in your luggage and your clothing.
19. Use your debit or credit card to make purchases as much as possible, unless the charges are too high. Use cash only at cash-only outlets.
20. Keep your valuables such as jewelry and costly purchases under lock and key in the main hotel safe.
21. Keep your wallet in your inner jacket pocket so that it won’t be easy to steal it. Carrying a money belt under your jacket is also a good idea.
22. Don’t get fully engrossed in the sights. Make sure you look around now and then; being aware of any suspicious looking people can help prevent thefts and other crimes.
23. Get hold of the phone numbers for the local authorities whenever you travel to a new destination. Report a crime over phone the moment it occurs and follow it up with a written complaint.
24. Carry a map with you and check your route so that you know exactly where you’re going and how to get there. This will prevent you from asking directions of strangers and being led through a merry-go-round.
25. Travel with pairs as much as possible. Solo travelers are usually targeted more often by criminals than those in a group.
26. Follow night-time curfew rules if any. Avoid walking around in a strange area during the night.
27. In countries where the crime rate is high, manage your foreign exchange, taxi booking and other necessities with government approved agencies. Resist dealing with currency exchangers, gypsy taxis and street vendors.
28. Even though tourist sites tend to attract crooks, they also enjoy a heavier police presence. It’s best to sign up for tours from your hotel or a reputable agency.
29. Don’t get into a battle of words with people you don’t know. This is how con people operate; they try to engage you in a conversation and try to lead you astray.
30. Blend in as much as possible to avoid standing out as a tourist. This reduces your likelihood of being targeted for theft.
31. Learn a bit of the local language, at least enough to get answers to basic questions.
32. Hostels are cheap when compared to other options, but talk to people who stay at the hostel before you register. In some countries, hostels are not known for maintaining hygiene.
33. Be careful not to entertain any talks with hotel or hostel management. In some countries, foreign tourists are targeted by pimps at hotels, pretending to be regular folk.
34. Even if they’re pricey, it’s best to stay at a hotel recommended on the internet or by friends.
35. Explore home stays in clean areas; these are economical and provide a great chance to network with honest local people.
Teena Celis is a traveler and content writer working for Adrenaline, an Australian experience provider that offers rally driving experiences all across Australia.
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The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides valuable up-to-date travel advice for British citizens abroad. It is the best resource for reliable safety and security information. You can also find other important details, such as local laws, passport information and visa requirements. Stay safe abroad – check the FCDO before you travel.